Tuesday, October 20, 2015

We've Moved To A New Location!

Don't Be Sad!!

Thank you for your loyal following over these past years. This page will remain open for reference to my past blogs. Please visit my webpage for all the latest information about me and my books! While you're there you can sign up for my newsletter too. Don't worry, you'll only hear from me four times a year. God Bless You!!
Annette O'Hare

Here's The Link!!!  Annette O'Hare Dot Com!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My Writing Journey-Part 3 By: Annette O’Hare


Me: I remember when my brother Paul and me used to make flunkies.

The Hubby: Flunkies, what do you mean you used to make flunkies? Do you mean a person who performs relatively menial tasks for someone else, especially obsequiously? Like a minion, a lackey, a subordinate, or an underling?

Me: Yes, exactly, and by the way, when did you become a dictionary?

The Hubby: Never mind that. You can’t just turn people into flunkies.

Me: No, no, you don’t understand. Flunkies aren’t people. Flunky is the name we gave to the clay figures we molded to act out the scenarios we made up.

The Hubby: Wait a minute. Is this another one of your writing journey blog posts?

Me: Why yes it is. How did you ever guess?

The Hubby: All right then, is this the part where I ask you to tell me your story?

Me: I thought you’d never ask. And please don’t roll your eyes at me. First of all, let me say that it wasn’t me, but Paul who invented flunkies. Their shape was generally the same as Spook from Wizard of Id comic strip. If you aren’t of a certain age or perhaps a comic junkie you probably don’t know what Spook looks like. That’s why I’ve included a picture. That’s generally what flunkies looked like; only they weren’t covered with hair.

Paul and I formed the clay into these capsule shaped figures and snapped toothpicks in half for their arms and legs. After we finished making the flunkies they took on a life of their own.

A few flunkies realized they were musically talented and decided to form a band. They heard about another flunky who could sing. The lead guitarist flunky asked Paul to make them some instruments. Paul knew a lot about instruments back then. As a matter of fact, he still does. He tediously formed the clay into tiny guitars, drums, keyboard, microphones and amplifiers. He even made cords for everything using yo-yo string. There were a couple flunkies left. And while they loved music, they didn’t have any musical talent. They became flunky roadies.

The flunky band was amazing! They produced covers of songs by such bands as The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and The Rolling Stones. Their whirlwind Texas tour went on for probably three whole days before Mom told us to stay out of the toothpicks and to get our clay band off the kitchen table.

The Hubby: Okay so you made these flunkies…they formed a band…they went on tour then they ended up at the back of your closet. What does any of this have to do with your writing journey?

Me: Can’t you see the amazing story world we created? This simple exercise might have been child’s play back then, but now I see it was a precursor to my love of story and my love of writing.

The Hubby: Oh. I can see how you came to that assessment. But…

Me: But what?

The Hubby: Well, do you think maybe you and your brother just might have an affinity with clay?

Me: You just don’t get it…

All images and characters Copyright their respective owners, no copyright infringement intended.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Disaster In Texas

This blog was originally posted in 2010, but since today is the 68th anniversary and because I'm so fascinated with this horrific industrial accident, I'm running it again. The Texas City Disaster of 1947 remains today as the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history and the largest non-nuclear explosion on record. I hope you enjoy.

On the morning of April 16, 1947, Texas City, Texas earned the fateful distinction of hosting the largest industrial accident in U.S. history. French freighter, SS Grandcamp was loaded with 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer destined for war torn Europe when the crew smelled smoke. Measures were taken to contain the fire, but it was no use. The ship was so hot the water vaporized on contact. The hatch covers buckled then blew off…golden orange smoke billowed from the hold. The ship’s explosion could be heard more than 150 miles away. Windows broke twenty-five miles away. Every firefighter from the Texas City Fire Department was killed. The intensity of the blast knocked two small airplanes out of the sky, the pilots killed on impact.

“I was about nine years old at the time. I remember hearing sirens day and night for two days straight. There weren’t any medical facilities in Texas City so the injured had to be brought to Houston. We didn’t own a television. Most of our news came from radio and word of mouth. I was curious and climbed a big tree in front of our Heights home. I saw a huge column of black smoke to the south that continued to rise for days. And that was over forty miles away. One story that’s always stayed with me was about a man having his head sheared off by a huge shard of flying glass. I have no idea if the story is true or not. One thing I know happened is the two ton anchor from the first ship was blown more than a mile away leaving a huge crater in the ground.” Harrell “Jerry” McRae, Huffman, TX

Businesses were destroyed. One hundred forty five workers at nearby Monsanto Chemical were killed. The explosion triggered a fifteen foot wave of water that pushed a steel barge ashore and also carried dead and injured people into the sea as it receded. Huge pieces of the ship rained down causing even more loss of life. Help began pouring in from Galveston and Houston.

“My neighbor and I worked for Hughes Tool at the time. Hughes had a first aid department with its own ambulance and my neighbor was the driver. People all over Houston wanted to send aid, so of course Hughes sent their ambulance to help with the injured. I lived off Lyons Avenue and Wayside in Houston, but I had a cousin who lived in Galveston. Her husband worked for the ship company and he was killed instantly when the ship blew up. She never did talk much about it. I went down there a year later with my brother. He had a sister-in-law who lived in Texas City. We were surprised at how quickly they had cleaned up and rebuilt in a year’s time.” Quinn Lansford, Porter, TX

The SS High Flyer was docked near the Grandcamp. It contained sulfur and one thousand tons of ammonium nitrate. Workers discovered a fire onboard. Tugboats tried frantically to move the vessel away from the docks. When the ship’s holds blew, the tugs cut their lines and fled. The High Flyer exploded at 1:00 am on April 17.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Red Cross counted over 550 dead. Estimates suggest that some 100 more were believed to be missing. More than 3,500 suffered injuries.

“I remember my mom crying and worried sick because both of her brothers worked at American Oil Company in Texas City. Fortunately they weren’t killed. When I worked at Dixie Pipe Sales the yard supervisor talked about being an ambulance driver down there. We heard all kinds of stories circulating about all the bodies and destruction. Of course we saw the pictures when the story came out in the papers.” Doyle Kendrick, New Caney, TX

It’s hard to believe that a single discarded cigarette is thought to have started the deadly chain of events. Stringent safety regulations were later put in place in hopes that an explosion of this magnitude would never happen again. We should all heed the words of philosopher, George Santayana, who said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Even though more than sixty years have passed, memories of the pain and devastation continue to linger with those in our community who lived through…the Texas City Disaster.

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Writing Journey-Part 2 By: Annette O’Hare

The story must be told…no matter the cost!

Pixar Animation Studio’s motto is, “Story is King.” I believe that philosophy wholeheartedly. Why? I thought you’d never ask! It goes back to when I was a small child. I remember it well…queue the dream sequence music, (I like doing that, tee hee!)

Without completely giving away my age, I’ll say that during the time period of my childhood there were no video games, no computers, no internet and no cable TV, at least not in my house anyway. 


Once we’d watched afternoon reruns of The Munster’s and Gilligan’s Island there wasn’t much left to do. Getting through the rest of the day required a good imagination. Woe to the poor kids who didn’t have one because telling mom you’re bored meant doing chores.


Thank goodness my brother Paul and I both had healthy imaginations. Another bit of luck on our behalf was living across the street from five acres of heavily wooded property. We named it…Devil’s Island!

There were two rival factions vying for control of the island. The first one consisted of two brothers from down the street, Cameron and Kevin and their maul, a cousin; I forget her name. They were called Cameron’s Gang. Then there was my posse, The Funky Four.
The leader of the Funky Four was Gerald, our friend from the bowling alley. He had everything it takes to be a leader. Foul language, cigarettes he’d filched from his dad, hair he could flip to the side and emerald green Chuck Taylors. Then there was Buster, a nastier kid I’ve never known. His real name was Ronald, but you don’t get to be bad to the bone with a name like Ronald. Buster had the potential to be the leader had he not been four years our junior. It was his job to do anything we told him to. Any smart eight year old knew better than to argue with eleven and twelve year olds. We gave my brother Paul the nickname Tank. Equipped with a dull machete from our garage it was his job to clear new paths through the island. And last but not least was me. I was responsible for coming up with ideas to overthrow Cameron’s Gang.

 As I’ve mentioned, story is king and that statement held true on the island.

It was a hot day in Houston, just like every other summer day in Texas. Both gangs were holed up in opposing forts. I immediately realized the vulnerability of Cameron’s fort since it consisted of a small clearing between some trees, surrounded by a line of brush we weren’t allowed to cross. Cameron had left the fort with their maul on a recon mission. They left Kevin behind to stand guard—their first mistake. Kevin was good, but he was no Cameron and he didn’t stand a chance against Tank.

Even to this day I’m not ashamed to say that we kidnapped the poor kid, tied him to a tree with a couple belts and claimed Devil’s Island in the name of the Funky Four. The sad part is when we left Kevin in the woods and went home for dinner. And...we never saw him again...

Of course that last part isn’t true, but you can see my love of story has seen me through many significant stages of life.

The moral of the story is: be careful who you make war with, they might in turn seize your heart. Yes, I ended up having a huge crush on Cameron until he moved away after six months. What can I say? I’m a sucker for any guy that could cook a Denver omelet. In the words of the great Paul Harvey…and that’s the rest of the story!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My Writing Journey-Part 1 By: Annette O'Hare

This week has been filled with lots and lots of editing on my contracted historical novel, Northern Light. It's been a fun experience going through the suggestions provided by my editor and making those changes. I don't have a release date yet, but things are moving along as planned. 

Last week was the release of the anthology, Out of the Storm by Chalfont House Publishing. My story, Tempest Tossed placed fourth in the contest and earned a place in the book. The great thing about the anthology is that a portion of the proceeds go toward scholarships to the ACFW national conference in Dallas this year. I hope you'll order a copy and support this great organization. 


How It All Began…

I suppose you could say that my love of writing goes all the way back to when I was a small child. I remember it well…queue the dream sequence music.

My first writings came in the form of poetry I’d lovingly write for my mama. I remember one particular poem that went something like this.

Roses are red.
Violets are purple.
I love you more than,
Pancakes with maple surple.

Okay, now be nice…remember, I was just a little kid. Yes, my poetry was always a big hit with Mom. Bless her heart, she always has been and always will be my biggest fan.

My love of verse grew even more when Mama let each of us three kids purchase a book through the Scholastic Book Club program. The one I chose was a book of poetry meant to appeal to young people. I can attest to the fact that it did and it still does today. The book is titled, Reflections On A Gift Of Watermelon Pickle And Other Modern Verse. The work of poetry the book is named for is the one I fell in love with. It’s the one that sang to me. It became the theme of my pre-teen years. It still speaks to me and to my generation.

Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity

During that summer
When unicorns were still possible;
When the purpose of knees
Was to be skinned;
When shiny horse chestnuts
   (Hollowed out
    Fitted with straws
    Crammed with tobacco
    Stolen from butts
    In family ashtrays)

Were puffed in green lizard silence
While straddling thick branches
Far above and away
From the softening effects
Of civilization;
During that summer--
Which may never have been at all;
But which has become more real
Than the one that was--
Watermelons ruled.
Thick imperial slices
Melting frigidly on sun-parched tongues
Dribbling from chins;
Leaving the best part,
The black bullet seeds,
To be spit out in rapid fire
Against the wall
Against the wind
Against each other;
And when the ammunition was spent,
There was always another bite:
It was a summer of limitless bites,
Of hungers quickly felt
And quickly forgotten
With the next careless gorging.
The bites are fewer now.
Each one is savored lingeringly,
Swallowed reluctantly.
But in a jar put up by Felicity,
The summer which maybe never was
Has been captured and preserved.
And when we unscrew the lid
And slice off a piece
And let it linger on our tongue:
Unicorns become possible again.

John Tobias